Tag Archives: La Fenice

Main Street: One Real Estate Firm’s View

They’re not the Trump Organization, the mammoth real estate company. They’re not Empire State Realty, which own the Empire State Building — and commercial real estate on Westport’s Main Street.

But Admiral Real Estate Services is no slouch. The commercial real estate company focuses on retail sites in the tri-state area. You’ve seen their signs on vacant storefronts around town.

If they have their way, you’ll see fewer in the future. Admiral is bullish on Westport.

The last couple of years have not been easy, notes president and CEO Jonathan Gordon.

Norwalk’s new SoNo Collection mall — “the newest and shiniest project out there,” Gordon admits — “sucked a lot of the energy out of downtown.”

COVID brutalized merchants and landlords. Downtown Westport — and similar markets like Darien, Greenwich, Rye and Scarsdale — saw shoppers flee to online.

But as the nation emerges from the pandemic, Gordon says, “retailers are returning our calls.”

Part of the reason, he believes, is “internet fatigue. Millennials want a more experiential shopping experience. Retailers see a need to be downtown.”

One empty storefront is among the most visible in all of downtwn.

“Downtown” draws more than Westporters, Gordon says. It’s a destination for many area residents. Within a 15-minute drive, Admiral’s website says, “the  population jumps to over 150,000 with an average income exceeding $170,000, resulting in total buying power for in-store retail goods (excluding food and drink) of $4 billion+.”

One thing that Westport has over some other affluent suburbs is that while residents leave in the summer for vacations (and vacation homes), they’re replaced by equally affluent summer residents. That’s attractive to Admiral — and the properties they represent.

Despite an upturn in commercial real estate activity, there are still a number of empty storefronts. For Admiral, that includes 2 properties at the Post Road/ Main Street intersection, and 4 others on the river side of Main Street (one is the long-vacant 2-story restaurant most recently occupied by Boca and Acqua).

Boca restaurant closed in 2018. The Main Street property has been empty ever since.

Admiral also represents 2 properties on Post Road East, near Balducci’s.

For retailers looking for a new location, Gordon says, Westport’s competition is “really Greenwich.” It’s a “formidable” location, with a “nice, long retail strip, close to New York City.”

So, he says diplomatically, he tries to sell both locations.

In terms of Westport, Gordon says, “we view Main Street as one entity. Our goal is to find retailers that help other retailers be successful.” La Fenice gelateria — an Admiral tenant — is one such place.

“People who get a gelato will go next door to shop,” Gordon notes. “If they come at night, they’ll go window shopping.”

The new Barnes & Noble — not an Admiral property — is another example of “exactly what downtown needs.”

27 Main Street is another Admiral property.

So how tough a sell is Westport?

“Everything is tough these days,” Gordon says. “We may drag people there by the scruffs of their neck. But we show them the free parking lots. We give them marketing materials, with specific breakdowns of population, income and consumer purchases. We help them assess the viability of a site. Seeing downtown is more powerful for them than anything.”

In the past, he notes, potential retailers have been “surprised at the disconnect between the number of vacant stores, and the potential.”

Coming out of COVID, he hopes, those numbers — and that disconnect — will diminish. In their place will be a new mix of retailers, and eager shoppers from far and wide.

Cold Fusion: Today’s Hot Opening

Main Street’s gelato cup runneth over.

Cold Fusion opens today. That’s the second gelato shop downtown. La Fenice was the first, last month.

The Cold Fusion brand is well known to Westporters — and has a distinct local “flavor.”

Gelato and sorbet — made by hand, with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients — is sold at many cool places on the East Coast (including Mystic Market and Rizzuto’s). There’s also a retail store in Newport, Rhode Island.

Cold Fusion is owned by Westporters Eric and Kelly Emmert. They searched for a long time for a local shop. They found the perfect location in the old Papyrus store (next to Chase Bank).

There’s an outdoor patio too. History lovers note: The original Ice Cream Parlor was located a few doors away.

Owner Eric Emmert (right) and crew Nate Kolek and Imogen Barnes — both Staples High School graduates — are ready for customers. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

The Emmerts offer 32 artisan gelato choices, both traditional (hazelnut, pistachio, stracciatella) and new (amaretto almond crunch, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, milk chocolate brownie). There are no food colorings, powders or preservatives.

Sorbets are dairy-free, vegan and made with fresh whole fruits. Everything is kosher-certified.

Besides gelato and sorbet, Cold Fusion carries locally sourced chocolates, and espresso, cappuccino and coffee from local roasters. Hand-packed and packaged pints are available to go.

Cold Fusion is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Eric and Kelly Emmert, and their gelato.

La Fenice Rises Downtown

The weather’s getting hot. School is (almost) out. Time for gelato!

La Fenice opened this morning, at 49 Main Street.

Like its sister locations in Greenwich and Rye, this La Fenice — “the phoenix” — sells a great assortment of gelati. All fruit is sourced locally.

The gelato bar …

The menu includes pastries, cookies, coffee and paninis.

… and the pastry case.

All 3 La Fenices are owned by Salvatore Scuro and his wife Simona Silvestri. They came to the US in 2010, from Italy.

Now — like a phoenix — their newest gelateria is rising from what was formerly Lucky Brand.

Lucky for all of us.

Seating in the front, by Main Street …

… and the rear, near Parker Harding Plaza.

Roundup: Gelato, Vaccine, Tyler Hicks, More

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What’s better than one gelato shop opening on Main Street?

Two.

Hot on the heels of news of Cold Fusion moving into the former Papaya Papyrus space next to Chase Bank in May, a sign in what was once Lucky Brand — across the street, and closer to the Post Road — announced the arrival “soon” of La Fenice.

Like its sister locations in Greenwich and Rye, it will serve gelato, crepes, pastries and coffee. Click below for a look at the Rye shop:

It’s not quite like the days when there was a frozen yogurt store on every Westport corner.

It’s better.

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First “06880” reported that St. Vincent’s was closing their Long Lots Road COVID testing facility on March 1.

Then we reported that it was remaining open.

This morning, a reader reports that his wife just phoned St. Vincent’s. She was told they are closing their Long Lots testing as of March 1.

St. Vincent’s Health Center testing will soon be in the rear mirror. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

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It’s not just New York Times readers who appreciate Tyler Hicks’ work.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate just won 1st place in a new category — COVID-19 coverage — from Pictures of the Year International. It’s the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world. This year’s awards were the 78th annual.

The honor — which follows many others, including multiple Pulitzers — is for Hicks’ photos of the pandemic’s devastation in the Amazon.

COVID in the Amazon (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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MoCA Westport and Up|Next Teens are partnering to present a Winter Lights Festival at MoCA. It’s set for this Saturday (February 27, noon to 6 p.m.).

The Festival features a maker and crafts space in a large outdoor tent, with supplies and step-by-step instructions for families to work together to create winter-themed decorations. The decorations will be incorporated into a walk-through Light Path, to be lit at sun down. The public can view the experience through the following weekend.

Also planned: live performances by high school musicians, food from The Melt truck, and hot cocoa.

The Festival includes free entry to MoCA ’s exhibition “Hindsight is 2020,” showcasing nearly 200 high school student artists from across the region.

Click here for tickets.

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The Fairfield County Directory — the “Yellow Pages” that is dumped in driveways and by mailboxes — will be distributed between February 25 and April 13.

The Selectmen’s Office says that residents with questions or concerns regarding the distribution of the directory should e-mail RealYPResolutions@thryv.com.

You may request directories or opt-out of future phone book deliveries by clicking here or here.

Let’s hope that works better than the national Do Not Call Registry.

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A group of swans is called a “flock” or a “wedge.”

Matt Murray spotted this flock/wedge — aka “a whole lot” — yesterday, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … Today is the 41st anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.” The US Olympic men’s hockey team came from behind to beat the overwhelmingly favored Soviet team 4-3, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Al Michaels memorialized the moment on ABC: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!!!”

That game was not, however, the final. Two days later the Americans clinched gold, with a win over Finland.

Westport connection: After a disappointing NHL career, goaltender Jim Craig worked for a marketing firm on Riverside Avenue.